Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Musings, 14 April 2012

Good morning,

The trill of a recorder, a flute perhaps, wafts from the radio during a story on NPR. I hear the little pug downstairs chewing on a sweet potato goody, something we got free by dint of purchasing an enormous quantity of pet supplies from an online company. We're dog-sitting for our daughter; dog-sitting and car-sitting, while she and her adorable boyfriend dance in Las Vegas at the wedding of a friend. Morning drifts into mid-day, and I lounge in my gray cotton nightgown, thick socks on my feet, coffee cooling at my elbow.

It's been a dicey week. I've seen daybreak from an alarmed hospital bed at week's beginning, and nightfall with an inhaler inches from my elbow at week's end. I've quit a client; taken in new ones; shared stories of survival; listened to whispered tales of struggle from the pursed lips of a suffering friend. I survived Friday the Thirteenth. I lived.

In the throes of the wickedness of an asthma relapse, I abandoned work for a day or three, and immersed myself in books. I bought a new pair of shoes on E-bay and learned how to use a modern, sleek Nebulizer. I helped a friend understand documents from an estate in which she is named as an heir; I proofed my son's resume, marveling at his accomplishments which I had never seen paraded one after another in black-and-white; and I made friends with a pharmacy technician who shares my frightening, breath-taking ailment.

And last night, I fell asleep, alternately soothed and startled by the constancy of my husband's snoring, and dreamed of my grandmother.

I walked again with her down South Sixth Street, in Springfield, Illinois, in new penny loafers that she purchased at the shoe store next to the Sonotone House of Hearing where she and my grandfather tested hearing and sold hearing aids. I held her hand, listening to her tell me to put my best foot forward. I tilted my head back, again, letting my curls fall down my back, and, again, asked her which foot is that, Nana? Again, as she had so many decades ago, she gazed down on my face with sparkling eyes, set in pale Austrian skin, and in a gentle voice with just a lilting trace of her immigrant's accent, assured me that my best foot was the one striking the sidewalk in front of me, first left, first right, then left, then right, and on until we reached Strong's and the waitress set a steaming plate of stewed chicken in front of us.

Neither of us then knew that I had asthma; or would some time in life develop asthma; or that I would later in life find out that I am allergic to the swirls of thick rich honey that the restaurant stirred into their softened butter for us to smear on thick, hot biscuits.

She held my hand in hers and walked with pride down the street that she owned, nodding to tradesmen; gently pulling me to a stop at cross-walks, nudging me forward when the light turned green. And after lunch, she released me into the back room of my grandparents' business, where they kindly stored books for the bookstore next door. There my world expanded, as I sat amidst the stacks of novels, and encyclopedias, and volumes about how to care for your pet, or your parent, or your garden. Sometimes I fell asleep sitting on a carton of books, with the Wind and the Willows clutched in my sticky hands, and Anne of Greene Gables under my small head with its great mass of brownish red curls carefully cultivated around a nest of clothes pins each night by my grandmother, in those summer days when I stayed with her, long ago, before I knew what my life would give me.

I dreamed this dream of my grandmother in the last lazy hour of sleeping, while my husband sat downstairs reading his Wall Street Journal, and our dog, and our daughter's dog, lay curled at his feet. I awoke refreshed despite the rough night, and when I got downstairs, my coffee had been poured, and the light of love shown in his eyes, as he asked how I had slept, hoping, hoping, that the night had been good to me.

And so, it had.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.